As the 2022 academic year gets underway at institutions of higher learning, the minister of Higher Education and Training has briefed the nation on developments for the upcoming year.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande has revealed that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) has received more than 906 000 funding applications during the 2022 application period.
Around 85% of these students have not studied at a public university or college before. Nzimande added if all these applicants are approved, there will be enough funds available to support them.
He said, “I'm happy to report that we will be able to fund all qualifying students on the department of higher education and training bursary scheme as administered by Nsfas who have been admitted for funding programs at public TVET colleges and universities in 2022”.
However the minister warned that only once students have been admitted to either a public university or TVET, will they be funded.
He added that Nsfas is not a grant and the money is only given to those who were admitted to study further. He said, “ It’s not a grant, Nsfas, that you get given this money because you qualify irrespective of whether you’ve been taken in an institution“.
He said that engagement with banks around affordable loan options for missing middle students must take place. He has advised for students who don't qualify for Nsfas to contact the financial aid offices at their institutions. he added that Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) must pritiose funding for missing middle students
The minister praised the improvement made to the Nsfas application system which allowed people who were South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries to immediately receive confirmation of funding.
Nzimande has also hit out at students who are undeservedly benefiting from Nsfas and defrauding the system. This as some students have failed to declare that their household income has increased which would impact their funding eligibility. Students have also submitted false information.
The household income threshold for Nsfas funding stands at R350 000 for students and R600 000 for students with disabilities.
The minister revealed that the following amount of students are undeservedly benefiting from Nsfas as their annual household income exceeds the funding threshold.
32 654 students have a household income that exceeds R400 000 per annum
7 080 students have a household income that exceeds R1 000 000 per annum
632 students have a household income that exceeds R2 000 000 per annum
He says these students will be defunded.
Universities have also been given the green light to increase tuition fees by 4.3% while the cost of accommodation will rise by 6.3%. He says fees increases needed to be implemented in the sector.
The minister explained that it is not sustainable for universities to increase fees that are lower than the Consumer Price Index (CPI). He added that salaries of workers, rising food prices, cost of learning materials and inflation all play a role in the need for fee increases.
He adds that fee increases are agreed upon in the sector. In the past, decisions taken around fee increases were made by the individual institutions.